• May 25, 2020
  • BY velocity

Why Great Leaders Need a Coach

Why CEOs and C-Level Executives Need a Coach

#1 Dilution of your Delusion

Every executive on the planet suffers from some level and form of delusion.  Some live constantly in the world of delusion, some just visit frequently. But, we all experience delusion.  One of the most common forms of delusion is one’s ability to fully understand how he or she is perceived by their leader, direct reports or peers.  This is the most common blind spot I see with all of my coachees.  Best told in this real world dialog…

My conversation with Tim who reports to Bob, the CEO:

“Tim, how are you working with Bob?” I asked.

“He is very difficult to work with and I can never seem to get him to listen.  And he has created very unrealistic goals for my team and I feel like we are constantly failing.” Tim said.

Same day follow on conversation with Bob:

“Bob, how do you think the team is doing?” I asked.

“Everyone seems highly engaged and motivated and I think they are valuing my leadership during these times.  I don’t sense any team members struggling right now.” Bob replied.

If I have heard this dialog once, I have heard it 1000 times.  This is a small sampling of the delusion that C-level execs face on a daily basis.  No one is immune from delusion that holds an individual or team back from growth and progress.

When you have a coach that has an open ear to delusion AND is also coaching your entire executive leadership team, this blind spot can be removed and remedied.   Without a doubt, there is some form of misalignment or misperceptions that can only be solved by an outside coach pushing his or her coachee to see through their delusions and make changes.

#2 Not So Lonely at the Top… if you have a Coach

We’ve all heard the expression, “it is lonely at the top.”  If you are the CEO, there is really no one you can turn to internally (including the board) to talk openly and honestly about all the challenges or issues you are facing…be it personal or business related.  It is a similar situation with the other C-level execs.  CEOs and C-level executives need an outside source that is 1) trustworthy  2) familiar with their situation  3) a confidential source 4) and honest with feedback.

If you don’t have this source that meets all 4 criteria above, you will always be lonely at the top and frustrations will fester and play out negatively in your leadership.

#3 Praise Agent

We ALL value and need praise.  But most executives don’t get enough or the praise is more recognition or “good job” based.  Great coaches praise their coachees regularly when they see progress and tangibly observe their growth and maturity.  No one sees the progress a coachee is making more than a coach…assuming the coachee is getting out of their comfort zone and being vulnerable with their coach.  Quality praise from a coach is the best fuel and motivation to go bigger and be confident in doing so.

#4 Playbook Broker

CEOs and C-level executives face difficult scenarios and tough “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” decisions frequently…and the expectation from stakeholders is they should have a ready playbook to execute. Reality is no single person has the end all, be all playbook. Great coaches are uniquely positioned to provide these playbooks as they have seen volumes of scenarios and challenges in their work and…they have the benefit of seeing what the outcomes of running that playbook were.   If you want to be efficient and effective and not run your business by trial and error, having a coach that has a large catalog of playbooks with outcomes will bring enormous benefits to you and your business.


#5 Unbiased Accountability Partner

Effective executives have accountability partners outside of the board or their CEO.  Board members are always biased towards their own agenda or area of expertise.  The benefit of an outside coach is while they might be invested in retaining a contract, their single goal is to ensure that their coachee is doing the best work of their career and that their work is pleasure with a purpose. So, they are in turn, the best accountability partner.  If an executive properly uses their coach, they will be accountable to themselves but with a trusted Sherpa by his or her side.

#6 “In the Know” Facilitator of Executive Alignment Offsites

In my 7,500+ hours of executive coaching, there is one constant…Executive teams that have quarterly or at least semi-annual executive offsite meetings are the most high performing teams.  An executive team cannot be fully alignment or in synch without offsite strategic meetings.  Staff meetings and frequent team meetings are not sufficient and will not create full alignment.  If a CEO choses to make offsite meetings a priority, meeting annual goals and achieve executive team alignment are achievable.

However, a CEO shouldn’t be the facilitator of these meetings.  If the CEO acts as facilitator, he wears too many hats during the offsite and the meeting loses it’s purpose, meaning and traction.  The CEO should be part of the team during offsites and utilize a coach as the facilitator.  Using the coach as a facilitator allows the CEO to be fully present in the meeting, lean into the alignment exercises, and observe more than direct.  And great coaches have a rich playbook of how to effectively and efficiently tailor offsites based on the current emotional state of the ELT and company.

There are many more reasons that CEOs and C-level executives perform better and are more engaged and aligned with a coach by their side.  But this list above clearly articulates the benefits that far outweigh the costs.

David Turner